Cornea transplantation began and the first successful case occurred in the 19th century. The use of steroids and the advanced microscopic surgery have made cornea transplantation an organ transplant procedure involving the least risk and the highest success rate so far.
In 1944, the first eye bank in the world was formed in the United States. The eye bank is a non-profit organization that stores eye tissues donated and use them in transplantation, research, and education following medical evaluation and distribution.
In 1961, the first eye bank association was established in the United States. Ever since, many countries around the world now count with solid eye banks and dedicated personnel responsible for removal, transportation, and storage of eye tissues.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare decided to start an internal national eye bank program and develop responsible technicians to devote themselves to the removal, testing, and preparations prior to transplantation of the cornea to keep all operating procedures consistent, to ensure quality of the cornea to be transplanted, and to reduce the waste of donated corneas, The professional medical teams from two hospitals in the northern and southern parts of Taiwan established, respectively, the northern branch and the southern branch of the national cornea storage bank.
Some corneas, after donation, cannot be transplanted immediately to provide the recipient with optical assistance due to certain factors. To reduce waste of donated corneas, the National Eye Bank renews the optisol for such corneas in order to extend their effective period and provide such corneas to patients requiring urgent transplantation without the optical feature.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare modified the name of the national eye bank to the nationwide eye bank and authorized a domestic hospital to set up the main bank that centrally processes and tests corneas donated throughout the nation. In addition, there is the southern Taiwan office to keep the operating procedures followed by the northern and the southern branches consistent. The number of corneas donated a year increased from 224 in 2012 to 484 in 2016.
The name of the national eye bank was changed to the National Eye Bank of Taiwan (NEBT) and the Memorandum of Understanding was entered into with the US health organization SightLife. The hope is to improve the overall quality of corneas tested, the storage technique, and quality of transplantation and benefit our nationals accordingly and the specifications required for international eye bank certification can be gradually fulfilled to make the National Eye Bank of Taiwan compliant with international standards and fully functional.